Inspirational Woman: Priya Lakhani-Quiling | Director of Communications & Policy UK&ENI, Organon

Priya Lakhani-QuilingTell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

I began my public relations and communications journey at a small boutique PR agency in Spitalfields and had the privilege of working across several different areas. There, I realised very quickly my passion for healthcare. I then moved across to one of the leading agencies, MS&L, later moving onto Chandler Chicco Agency. Whilst I was there I was seconded to Allergan UK, which provided my first insight into working in-house and this is where I felt I could really make a difference. I was then very lucky to go on to have my first child.  Having a healthy work/life balance was incredibly important to me and I really didn’t want to miss out on those magical moments in my children’s younger years. At that point in time I felt like I needed to make a sacrifice and for me of course that was going to be my career. 

So, I decided to enter the world of freelance consulting, which gave me the flexibility I needed to be the mother that I wanted to be and to continue with my career. Women’s health has always been the golden thread that has run through my career and that continued in my freelance capacity.

I then took on a part time contracting role with MSD in 2020. It was there that I came across the Organon Comms and Policy director role and immediately felt that I’d found my new home at a company that shared my values. Over the past year I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a founding member of Organon and building a company from the ground up. It’s been so inspiring to be part of launching a company with a mission to empower women to put themselves first and to provide them with the knowledge they need to make more informed health decisions.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Actually, not at all, I’ve just been focused on doing what I love and giving my all to everything I do both personally and professionally and I feel like that’s what has led me to where I am today.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I feel that you have to fail to succeed. Challenges are part and parcel of life and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Absolutely, there have been a number of challenges along the way and it’s through those challenges that I’ve experienced my greatest successes.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt, my biggest achievement has been being blessed to have children and being able to watch them grow. I feel truly grateful to have found an organisation at which I feel comfortable saying out loud that my family is at least as important to me as my career, if not more important.

How do you think workplaces and employers can support its employees through the menopause?

I think its fundamental that workplaces realise that they have a responsibility to support their female employees through pregnancy, pregnancy loss, menstruation and the menopause, just to name a few. Our first step is simply to start the conversation and break down taboos so women start to feel like it’s ok to talk about how they’re feeling and stop feeling like they have to suffer in silence.

With menopause specifically we’re seeing a real movement in the UK. A Government strategy dedicated to women’s health is due to be released imminently and a number of organisations are coming together to create real change.

At Organon we have developed a series of policies dedicated to supporting our female founders and we also plan to roll out a training programme to empower managers with the knowledge they need to support their teams.

Why do you think speaking about the menopause is so taboo? What can we do to change that?

Honestly speaking, I think as girls and women we’re brought up to believe that there are certain things that a woman will naturally go through and we just have to find the strength to deal with them. It’s time to reset the dial and empower women to believe that they don’t have to suffer in silence and give them the courage to start having honest and open conversations.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I would say, don’t worry so much. Follow your dreams and do what you love.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

As a mother every day is a new challenge. As my two boys grow, I hope I will be able to give them the wisdom to understand the challenges that women face and the ability, consideration and empathy to support the women in their lives.

As the Director of Policy and Communications at Organon, my aspiration is to drive education, break down barriers and make a real difference to the health of women. We know that that will require meaningful collaboration with Government, patient groups and healthcare providers, as well as society as a whole.

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